Cricket Diary: The game of this, or any other, century

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The Independent Online
Throughout all the long summers there have been few more remarkable matches. It was nothing other than a county second eleven fixture between Somerset and Warwickshire at Taunton. Warwickshire won it by six runs with eight overs left on the fourth evening.

Close certainly, but that hardly begins to reveal the spectacular nature of the contest. Somerset had been set the little matter of 612 for victory in 155 overs. As they had been dismissed for a paltry 176 in the first innings their expectations might have been less great.

But in an increasingly gripping affair they amassed 605, seemingly the highest fourth-innings total achieved in any match in England. There was a triple centurion, Marcus Trecothick but only one other score above fifty.

Trescothick's innings of 322 was quite gallant in itself but it was ended only when he was run out going for a second run to try to ensure that the last man did not have to face the bowling with a broken hand. Witnesses - and, of course, there were not many at the Taunton ground eight days ago - say it was an extraordinary piece of fielding.

The protagonists were still recovering from their efforts late last week. Trescothick, recalled to the county's first team (against Warwickshire as it happens) as a result of his marathon effort was still disappointed.

"You don't set off to get a target like that,"he said, "if only because it's not really a target that you are set that often.

"Our first priority had to be to save the match, but we knew that if we were still batting on that pitch then we would be fairly near.

"I have never batted for anywhere near that long. It was a big thing for me and as we got closer I thought we'd definitely win."

Trescothick went in at the fall of Somerset's first wicket on the third afternoon of the match with the score at 50 for 1. They were later 143 for 2 and he was on 91 when they reached 241 for 2 at the close.

Trescothick, who is still only 21, and the scorer of more than 1,000 runs for England's Under 19 side, reached his hundred off 148 balls, his double hundred off 314. By late afternoon Somerset were 560 for 5 with 18 overs left and history seemed to be there for the taking. But they lost a flurry of wickets quickly, including that of their veteran captain Colin Wells, lbw for nought.

Wells has played in one-day internationals for England and in more than 400 first class matches but said: "It was the most astonishing match I've ever played in. Yes the palms were sweaty."

Somerset went to 595 for 9. Enter Andy Cottam, seam bowler and batting with a broken hand. They added 10 runs, Trescothick nurturing him until the final fatal glance to fine leg. The throw from Chris Howell was deadly accurate.

"I cried as I walked off," said Trescothick whose final score of 322 included 54 fours and three sixes. In the breathtaking climax one of the game's other two centuries was forgotten. It was scored by Mike Edwards in Warwickshire's second innings. It took 48 balls.

DURHAM were dismissed for a double-figure score again last week. It seems that this has happened every other week since they entered the Championship. Not, actually, so.

Their 85 against Gloucestershire was merely the fifth time in six summers of Championship cricket that they have been out for less than 100. In that time Derbyshire have folded for under three figures on six occasions.

Glamorgan had gone eight years sinced being dismissed for 65 by Essex when they crumbled to Middlesex for 31 last month. Sussex had attained three figures in every completed innings since being out for 71 against Kent in 1988. Until this year, when they were routed for double-figure scores three times in succession.

Which leaves Kent, who have not collapsed in such a fashion since Hampshire got them all out for 99 in 1988. Mind you, only their tail has saved them from that fate this summer. They have lost nine or 10 wickets 16 times and the bottom five have outscored the top five nine times, which almost went to 11 in their four-run victory at Lord's on Friday.

IN Test matches against Australia, Alec Stewart now has a batting average of 25.32, a figure which falls to 23.50 when he is keeping wicket. On the other hand, one Jack Russell's average against the oldest enemy is 32.58. Just a thought.

Book mark: "'A working class hero is something to be,' sang John Lennon. The apprentice Gooch assertively celebrated the fact with a series of useful innings which had all the grandeur of a gale. If the day was right any bowling attack in the world could be brutally knifed and scissored into shreds. But those were only touchstones, inconsistent markers and signposts for the mature, composed and priceless glories which were to come as he crossed the divide which separates cricketing men from immortals." From Gooch - The Autobiography by Graham Gooch and Frank Keating.